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Case Name Blanchard v. Wyoming Department of Corrections PC-WY-0008
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-00124-SWS ( D. Wyo. )
State/Territory Wyoming
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On July 18, 2017, a woman who had been recommended to Wyoming’s rehabilitative boot camp program filed this putative class-action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. The case was assigned to Judge Scott W. Skavdahl. The plaintiff sued the Wyoming Department of ... read more >
On July 18, 2017, a woman who had been recommended to Wyoming’s rehabilitative boot camp program filed this putative class-action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. The case was assigned to Judge Scott W. Skavdahl. The plaintiff sued the Wyoming Department of Corrections (“WDOC”) and the Wyoming Women’s Center under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under Wyoming’s Youthful Offender Act, all persons under twenty-five years old who were serving a prison sentence for any offense other than a felony punishable by death or life imprisonment were eligible to participate in a boot camp program through which they could gain new skills and shave time off of their sentences. However, the boot camp facilities in Wyoming were only open to men. As a woman, the plaintiff could not attend them. The plaintiff alleged that this violated her equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Represented by the ACLU and private counsel, she sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

On August 12, 2017, the plaintiff moved for class certification. The putative class would consist of all present and future female prisoners under the age of twenty-five and in the custody of the WDOC and/or the Wyoming Women’s Center who are or will be otherwise eligible to participate in Wyoming’s boot camp program, but who have been or will be denied participation due to their gender or not considered by WDOC due to their gender.

On August 29, 2017, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring suit because the defendants had sent her to a comparable boot camp program in Florida. The plaintiff argued that the boot camp program in Florida was not comparable. On October 3, 2017, the plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction, seeking to be placed in a Wyoming program of the same quality as that of the men’s program. She sought the same for all of the incarcerated women eligible for boot camp under the Youthful Offender Act.

On October 19, 2017, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint that contained new allegations regarding the Florida program. She alleged that her trip to Florida was long and traumatic and that the Florida program was inferior to the Wyoming program. On November 2, 2017, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint.

On November 9, 2017, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that that the plaintiff’s equal protection claims were not strong enough to meet the heightened scrutiny needed for a preliminary injunction. 2017 WL 10350606. Four days later, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for class certification as well, holding that there were too few women in the Wyoming Women’s Center who were eligible for the boot camp program for class certification to be appropriate.

On January 3, 2018, the court denied the defendants’ November 2017 motion to dismiss, holding that the adequacy of the Florida program was an issue of material fact to be addressed at trial. 2018 WL 4760521. By this point, however, the plaintiff was nearly finished with the Florida boot camp program, and she would be ineligible to attend another. So, the week prior to the court’s denial, on December 28, 2017, the defendants filed another motion to dismiss alleging mootness.

On January 18, 2018, the plaintiff completed the Florida boot camp program and was subsequently recommended for probation rather than prison time. She sought leave to file an amended complaint in light of this development, but the defendants opposed it, arguing that her case was now moot because she had completed a boot camp program and received a reduced sentence as a result. The court agreed with the defendants. On February 20, 2017, the court granted the defendants’ December 2017 motion to dismiss. 2018 WL 4760520. The next day, the court entered judgment in favor of the defendants.

On March 8, 2018, the plaintiff appealed the court’s judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. On August 3, 2020, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. 822 Fed.Appx. 811. The Court found that the plaintiff was no longer incarcerated when the district court dismissed her case then, because she sought relief which depended on her incarceration, her case was moot. The case is now closed.

Rebecca Strauss - 06/08/2018
Alex Moody - 03/25/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Conditions of confinement
Rehabilitation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Wyoming
Wyoming Women's Center
Plaintiff Description A woman sentenced to 6-10 years in prison and eligible for Wyoming's boot camp program
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Denied
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 07/18/2017
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Wyoming’s Boot Camp Program for Young, First-Time Offenders Openly Discriminates Against Women in Favor of Men
aclu.org
Date: Jul. 26, 2017
By: Stephan Pevar (ACLU)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Wyo.
09/25/2020
1:17-cv-00124-SWS
PC-WY-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
09/25/2020
18-8020
PC-WY-0008-9001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Wyo.
07/18/2017
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-WY-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Wyo.
10/19/2017
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 43]
PC-WY-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Wyo.
11/09/2017
Order Denying Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 57]
PC-WY-0008-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Wyo.
11/13/2017
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 58]
PC-WY-0008-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Wyo.
01/03/2018
Order Denying Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 64]
PC-WY-0008-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Wyo.
02/20/2018
Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint and Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 82]
PC-WY-0008-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
08/03/2020
Order and Judgment (822 Fed.Appx. 811)
PC-WY-0008-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
show all people docs
Judges Carson, Joel McElroy III (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-0007
Holmes, Jerome A. (Tenth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-0007
Rankin, Kelly H. Court not on record show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-9000 | PC-WY-0008-9001
Skavdahl, Scott Wesley (D. Wyo.) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-0003 | PC-WY-0008-0004 | PC-WY-0008-0005 | PC-WY-0008-0006 | PC-WY-0008-9000 | PC-WY-0008-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Crank Bramlet, Marci Anne (Wyoming) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-9000 | PC-WY-0008-9001
Pevar, Stephen L. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-0001 | PC-WY-0008-0002 | PC-WY-0008-9000 | PC-WY-0008-9001
Robinson, John H (Wyoming) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-0001 | PC-WY-0008-0002 | PC-WY-0008-9000 | PC-WY-0008-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Berkness, Rachel M (Wyoming) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-9000 | PC-WY-0008-9001
Daraie, Justin Ashkhan (Wyoming) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-9000 | PC-WY-0008-9001
Dawson, Ewa C (Wyoming) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-9000 | PC-WY-0008-9001
White, Daniel E (Wyoming) show/hide docs
PC-WY-0008-9000 | PC-WY-0008-9001

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